What is a scholarly source?


Sources are any resource containing information. Scholarly sources are those that are appropriate to use in an academic setting.  

Scholarly sources can be identified by checking: 


  • Written by researchers, professionals, or experts in the field
  • Author's credentials are listed


  • Advanced reading level
  • Intended audience is researchers, students, academics, and professionals

Language & Length:

  • Specialized or technical vocabulary
  • Topic is narrowly focused and research-based
  • Long articles (5+ pages)

Review Process:

  • Peer-reviewed or refereed articles have been screened and approved by other experts or researchers 


  • Often have a specific format (e.g., Abstract, Methodology, Discussion, Summary, Charts, Conclusion)
  • Descriptive titles
  • Limited or no advertising in the journal

Location of Information:

  • Scientific, medical, and research institutions, libraries
  • In print or online at RDP Library

Citations & Bibliography:

  • Extensive bibliography and citations throughout
  • Sources can be verified

Scholarly sources are also sometimes called academic, peer-reviewed, or refereed sources. 

Scholarly sources are contrasted with popular sources. Generally, popular sources contain information written by journalists, rather than subject experts, and are intended for use by the general public, rather than scholars or subject specialists.

Learn More

Distinguishing Scholarly and Popular Articles

  • A chart from the University of Nevada on the differences between scholarly and popular articles

How to Read a Scholarly Article

  • Video from Western University Libraries

Parts of a Scholarly Article

  • Interactive tutorial from RDP Library
  • Last Updated Feb 27, 2022
  • Views 87
  • Answered By RDP Library

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